A debut guide presents a secularized 12-step program filled with advice gained from personal experience.
When Bill W. (not the Bill W. who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous) was finally ready to face his alcohol addiction, he followed the Twelve Steps until he fully recovered. But he constantly needed to adapt the AA program to fit his agnostic views. To help others like himself, he has since created a secularized version of the program by rewording the “God steps” to work for addicts regardless of their faith. This essentially replaces dependence on God with the responsibility to “show up and take an active part” in your recovery. Religious readers may wince at this effort to remove God, but the author puts forth a convincing argument, asserting that the traditional program deters many nonbelieving addicts from pursuing a highly effective plan. (He also expresses his respect for religion, something that should ease tensions with the faithful.) Later in the book, W. delves into the biological processes of addiction and the universal characteristics of users, applying knowledge he has acquired as both a biologist and former alcoholic. In this section in particular, the author makes complex concepts incredibly clear by using tangible examples and metaphors. For example, he compares addiction to a furnace with a broken thermostat that will continue to heat up until there are disastrous consequences. The second half of the manual is focused solely on W.’s plan, with steps broken down into “The First 90 Days Sober” (Steps 1 to 3), “Reconstruction” (Steps 4 to 9), and “Long-Term Sobriety” (Steps 10 to 12). Having traversed the 12-step program himself, the author often uses the pronoun “we” with a tone free of judgment. His sharing of powerful firsthand experiences further personalizes and legitimizes his writing. One of the book’s weaknesses is that the target audience is unclear and shifts depending on the section. Only the second half seems directed at addicts themselves. The fact-heavy first half seems more for those researching addiction or recovery programs. Still, the guide contains a wealth of information and inspiration from beginning to end.
An excellent resource for understanding and overcoming addiction written with both authority and humility.